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Old 12-24-2008, 08:29 PM
 
Location: Denver, CO
5,608 posts, read 20,708,587 times
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This photo tour covers southeast Aurora (starting with the newer, farther out parts, and ending with some of the "older" parts of southeast Aurora) and eastern Centennial. I think this may be especially helpful in the future to people considering moving to one of the Denver suburbs but who automatically wrote off Aurora based on what they "heard" about it. Southeast Aurora is so different from north Aurora and even central Aurora that it might as well be a different city. As you will hopefully see in these pictures, SE Aurora, even though it's the farthest part of town from the mountains (especially I-70), has arguably the best panoramic mountain views in the entire metro area. And central Aurora isn't such a bad place either, just not as new and fancy; more "middle class" than "upper middle class."

I grew up in one of the "older" enclaves of SE Aurora, and remember each year as the edge of town continued to rapidly expand eastward as new subdivision after subdivision kept outdoing the others. I remember when Tower was as far east as Aurora went, then before you knew it it was Gun Club, then E-470 was built, then the new high school, then Smoky Hill Rd and Arapahoe Rd kept getting widened until it looks like it does today. The latest one is the Blackstone Country Club, which is not featured in my photo tour. I remember when the Aurora Reservoir opened up to the public, and it was far beyond the edge of town, literally in the middle of nowhere. Now homes back right up to the southern and western edge of the Aurora Reservoir (the Southshore subdivision).

And then 8 years ago or so the city of Centennial was created, which included pockets of unincorporated Arapahoe County adjacent to Aurora, bordering Aurora on all four sides, that always had an Aurora mailing address... now officially known as "Centennial." Truthfully, E. Centennial and SE. Aurora are the same thing.

This whole set of photos was done on bicycle.

By Chambers & Parker, just a bit east of Cherry Creek State Park:



Orchard Rd, east Centennial:











Back in Aurora, entrance to Saddle Rock golf course subdivision:





Doesn't look like anyone's playing golf today:









Can't tell from the picture, but some of the eastern, higher elevation parts of Saddle Rock have natural ponderosa pine trees, the very outskirts of the Black Forest east of and between Denver and Colorado Springs. The top of the Smoky Hill Ridge is well over 6,000 ft; not mountainous or even a foothill, but noticeably a step in that direction compared to the rest of the eastern metro area. Also in certain spots in this area the soil is red colored-- just like Red Rocks/ Roxborough/ Garden of the Gods.



E-470. No interchange at Arapahoe Rd.



City of Aurora combined police/fire/library building, in the Tallyn's Reach subdivision.



Yes, this is a blowup, but even with the naked eye the mountain views in this part of town are spectacular-- and visible from pretty much ANYWHERE.







The landscaping of Tallyn's Reach is the most innovative I've seen in all of the Front Range. They took an enivoronment with sparse clusters of ponderosa pine trees, designed the roads, homes, and landscaping around the trees already there, and then further planning new ones. It gives this subdivision a very "mountain-y" feel, even though it is actually on the opposite side of the city from the mountains. The homes themselves are huge (what some will not hesitate to call McMansions) and feature a lot of stone, designed to look similar to trophy 2nd homes commonly found near mountain resort communities.







Smoky Hill Rd is full of these new, huge, mega-churches:



The infamous "golf ball," er.. radio tower.



Aurora Reservoir visible in the distance. This entire piece of land is built on the former Lowry Bombing Range. This currently is the eastern edge of town, with the barren plains stretching out to the east.





Entrance to the Southlands outdoor shopping mall/ power center. The actual "Main Street" part of this property is the most attractive outdoor shopping center I have EVER seen. And I've seen a lot of them in Phoenix and LA, as well as similar ones in Denver. None of them have been as well executed as Southlands, IMO. You can really sense the demographics of the surrounding neighborhoods as you go here-- it is chock full of young families with little kids and babies in strollers.









Here's the center strip of Southlands I was talking about. It gets much better as you go deeper in.







Here are some shots showcasing the incredible 180 degree panoramic views of the mountains seen from Smoky Hill Rd. The mountain views don't get any better than this without actually being in the mountains. Cheyenne Mountain, Pike's Peak, Devil's Head, Mt Evans, Long's Peak, almost all the way to the Wyoming border:







E-470. There's never any traffic on it. The tolls are way too expensive, I never use it.







Another blow-up. Downtown is small, but clearly visible from this viewpoint by Smoky Hill & E-470. This is an excellent place to view the city lights at night. There's a nearby park built on a mini hill with an even better view of the city.









After another brief stretch of Centennial, back in Aurora again. This is the older part of south/southeast Aurora, my "hood" where I grew up. It's not as new and luxurious as further southeast, but still pretty nice. If you recall my Smoky Hill xeriscaping photo tour, that neighborhood is just on the other side of the street from this photo.









There have been several threads recently about pizza. Armando's is really, really good, and it's a local, non-chain place, been there for years:



This is Pheasant Run, a diverse, semi-grungy neighborhood of funky shaped homes from the late '70s. This neighborhood has more of a central Aurora feel than a stereotypical "southeast Aurora" feel:



This old school house was originally a mile away, built in the early 1900's. It's one of the only pieces of "history" in this sea of tract home suburbia.



Smoky Hill High School, home of the Buffs! Ugly building, but excellent school. One of the few schools in the Cherry Creek School District with an IB program, and an extremely diverse, international student body. When I went there I used to hear at least 3 or 4 different languages every time I walked through the hallways. This is about as good as a high school as it gets in the suburbs when it comes to combining excellent academics (including top ranked science programs), accelerated IB and AP programs, great sports, theater, bands, activities, a diverse student body ranging from lower middle class to upper middle class, and very, VERY low on the snob factor that rich kid schools like Creek are known for. Many of the students who go here live far away, zoned for other high schools, some even outside of the CCSD boundary, and choose to come here for its excellent IB program and other programs.




Last edited by vegaspilgrim; 12-24-2008 at 09:01 PM..
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Old 12-25-2008, 09:39 AM
 
Location: Vermont, grew up in Colorado and California
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Nice pics, thanks.
I lived there briefly many moons ago near the old airport.
I liked it there.
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Old 12-25-2008, 10:59 AM
 
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Great Tour, vegaspilgrim. These "photo tour" threads are a great addition to the site.
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Old 12-25-2008, 11:52 AM
 
Location: Arvada, CO
13,236 posts, read 24,403,441 times
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Way to bring back suppressed memories for me Vegas! I delivered Domino's Pizza in that area for four months when I first moved to CO, and needless to say, it was probably the worst four months of my life, both money-wise, career-wise and confidence-wise. Gave me a sour taste of CO when I first moved here. Thankfully, I've moved on to far greener pastures.

I lived in the NW corner of 80015 for nine months, the whole area is not a bad place at all, just a place I don't have to go to much anymore.

Did you grow up in that hood south of Smoky Hill/East of Buckley, but West of Tower? I always thought that hood was a bright spot, it was refreshing to get out of new cookie-cutter suburbia for a few minutes.

Once again, thanks for the great pics Vegas. I'm on my way to see my therapist now.
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Old 12-25-2008, 12:18 PM
 
Location: Denver, CO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Aguilar View Post
Way to bring back suppressed memories for me Vegas! I delivered Domino's Pizza in that area for four months when I first moved to CO, and needless to say, it was probably the worst four months of my life, both money-wise, career-wise and confidence-wise. Gave me a sour taste of CO when I first moved here. Thankfully, I've moved on to far greener pastures.

I lived in the NW corner of 80015 for nine months, the whole area is not a bad place at all, just a place I don't have to go to much anymore.

Did you grow up in that hood south of Smoky Hill/East of Buckley, but West of Tower? I always thought that hood was a bright spot, it was refreshing to get out of new cookie-cutter suburbia for a few minutes.

Once again, thanks for the great pics Vegas. I'm on my way to see my therapist now.
Thanks. Sorry to hear that SE Aurora was so traumatizing to you. Back in high school, I liked the school (Smoky) but I hated, hated, HATED the suburbs. After going to school in a city that was basically an inner ring, slightly dense suburb of another basically all suburban city (Tempe, AZ-- part of the Phoenix metro area) and now getting a taste of a REAL urban city (3 miles from downtown LA), I now appreciate the suburbs more than ever before. But not all suburbs are created equal. I have an acquired taste for old (1950s-80s development), "inner ring" suburbs with mature landscaping, old strip malls decked out in independent, mom-and-pop businesses, a lot of ethnic/international diversity, a slightly gritty feel but not too gritty, and a lot of new/redeveloped properties mixed in. At the same time, I can also recognize why many are attracted by the allure of the "nice" and "new."
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Old 12-25-2008, 01:12 PM
 
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I like what I've seen of the SE corner of the metro. We stumbled upon Southlands Mall a year and a half ago on our first trip to Denver. This past August we went there just to walk around and hang out. When people try to say out awful Denver's weather is, I just think "Well if it were that bad, would they have built an outdoor mall there if it were going to be unusable 1/2-3/4 of the year?" The only thing I don't really like about the area is that it feels far from the freeway. I've lived my entire life within 1/2 mile of a freeway so that's what I'm used to. I imagine the commute to downtown isn't so fun from there either. Housing is very affordable though.
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Old 12-25-2008, 01:39 PM
 
Location: Denver, CO
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Originally Posted by EscapeCalifornia View Post
I like what I've seen of the SE corner of the metro. We stumbled upon Southlands Mall a year and a half ago on our first trip to Denver. This past August we went there just to walk around and hang out. When people try to say out awful Denver's weather is, I just think "Well if it were that bad, would they have built an outdoor mall there if it were going to be unusable 1/2-3/4 of the year?" The only thing I don't really like about the area is that it feels far from the freeway. I've lived my entire life within 1/2 mile of a freeway so that's what I'm used to. I imagine the commute to downtown isn't so fun from there either. Housing is very affordable though.
Most people who live in this part of town work in the Denver Tech Center or office parks in the south I-25 corridor/ Centennial airport area or near DIA, not downtown. Affordability also varies drastically. In terms of new homes, the further north you go north of Smoky Hill Rd (like Saddle Rock North, Copperleaf), getting more into "east central" Aurora, the more affordable it gets. Real estate prices in the nicer, newer parts of southeast Aurora with the grand mountain views pictured here and the big homes are NOT cheap. I don't know what they're going for now but just a few years ago most homes in Tallyn's Reach were in the $900k+ range. Probably less now considering the housing market, but still not exactly "affordable." Your typical 15-20 year old, 3 bedroom, humble home in southeast/centennial Aurora is probably somewhere in the $250-$350k range. A 10 year old, big 4 bedroom home in the area will probably be in the $400-500k range. There are cheaper neighborhoods in the area like Pheasant Run and Summer Valley Ranch where you can find some small, 25-30 year old homes in the $125-$200k range.
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Old 12-25-2008, 01:47 PM
 
11,715 posts, read 35,944,799 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vegaspilgrim View Post
Most people who live in this part of town work in the Denver Tech Center or office parks in the south I-25 corridor/ Centennial airport area or near DIA, not downtown. Affordability also varies drastically. In terms of new homes, the further north you go north of Smoky Hill Rd (like Saddle Rock North, Copperleaf), getting more into "east central" Aurora, the more affordable it gets. Real estate prices in the nicer, newer parts of southeast Aurora with the grand mountain views pictured here and the big homes are NOT cheap. I don't know what they're going for now but just a few years ago most homes in Tallyn's Reach were in the $900k+ range. Probably less now considering the housing market, but still not exactly "affordable." Your typical 15-20 year old, 3 bedroom, humble home in southeast/centennial Aurora is probably somewhere in the $250-$350k range. A 10 year old, big 4 bedroom home in the area will probably be in the $400-500k range. There are cheaper neighborhoods in the area like Pheasant Run and Summer Valley Ranch where you can find some small, 25-30 year old homes in the $125-$200k range.
Yeah I know there's expensive McMansions out there but when I do a search for $250k 4 bedroom houses in the south metro, a lot more properties come up in the east Centennial/SE Aurora area than they do east of I-25. I'd be perfectly happy with a 20 year old house with 3 bedrooms above grade and a basement for $250k. We looked some houses up and drove the neighborhoods last summer and they looked nice and quiet.
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Old 12-25-2008, 04:24 PM
 
Location: Denver, CO
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Originally Posted by EscapeCalifornia View Post
Yeah I know there's expensive McMansions out there but when I do a search for $250k 4 bedroom houses in the south metro, a lot more properties come up in the east Centennial/SE Aurora area than they do east of I-25. I'd be perfectly happy with a 20 year old house with 3 bedrooms above grade and a basement for $250k. We looked some houses up and drove the neighborhoods last summer and they looked nice and quiet.
At least in the suburbs of Denver $250k buys you a decent (although not spectacular) house in a quality middle class neighborhood in a decent school district. Both you and me know what $250k buys you in California.
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Old 12-25-2008, 07:18 PM
 
Location: arizona on the border
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Again, thanks for memories from years ago! I bought a new home off Argonne and Chambers(?)in '84 for 72,000. Real estate collapsed in '85 and I couldn't give it away. Entire neighborhoods(American Homes, small places,1car garages)off Chambers Road sat abandoned.
Best memories of the area was a young QB named Elway that I used to see standing in line alot at Safeway, buying diapers.
The golf balls! geez, hadn't thought of them in years, could see 'em from our house in sw Denver, Sheridan blvd.
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